The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 offseason practices concluded last week. Next up for the team is their annual training camp, which should get underway in the latter part of July. Ahead of training camp, we will preview the team’s 90-man roster three players at a time for you as part of a 30-post series. This Steelers 90-man roster preview that includes outlooks for each player goes alphabetically by last name to make it easy to follow along with.
The next three players we will preview today are Jordan Berry, Chris Boswell, and Antoine Brooks Jr.
P Jordan Berry — Berry, who previously was the Steelers punter for the previous five seasons heading into 2020, failed to make the team’s roster this past season out of training camp as the team chose to release him and sign veteran punter Dustin Colquitt just before the start of the regular season. Five games into the 2020 regular season, however, the Steelers had seen enough of Colquitt, so they parted ways with him and brought back Berry. Berry punted 57 times for the Steelers in the regular season for 2,609 yards with a long of 62 yards. The veteran punter averaged 45.8 yards per punt and registered a net average of 40.5. 23 of Berry’s punts in 2020 were inside the opponent’s 20-yardline. He didn’t have any punts blocked last season and 22 were fair caught. Berry also was the holder for kickers Chris Boswell and Mathew Wright on field goals and extra point attempts. In the Steelers lone playoff game, Berry punted three times for 41.7-yard average and a net of 32.3 yards. His long punt against the Browns was 59 yards, however. One of his three punts landed inside the Browns 20-yard-line. One of the three resulted in a touchback.
Outlook: The fact that the Steelers attempted to move on from Berry prior to the 2020 regular season beginning really says a lot. It also speaks volumes that Steelers selected punter Pressley Harvin III out of Georgia Tech in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Even if Harvin flounders this summer in training camp and the preseason, Berry still might have a tough time making the 53-man roster come the final rounds of cuts as the team could once again look for other punter options just ahead of the start of the regular season like they did last season.
K Chris Boswell — From a pure field goal percentage standpoint, Boswell had his best season as professional in 2020 as the former undrafted free agent out of Rice made 19 of his 20 total attempts during the regular season and even set a new career long of 59 yards. He did, however, miss four extra point attempts in 2020. Boswell has never been great or overly consistent when it comes to his kickoffs and that was evident again in 2020. He also missed three games in 2020 due to hip and groin injuries so that is a bit concerning as well.
Outlook: Boswell is currently the only kicker the Steelers have on their 90-man offseason roster and that doesn’t figure to change anytime soon. The team might restructure Boswell’s contract later this summer to free up salary cap space as well and if they do, that move would essentially cement him as the Steelers 2021 kicker. Barring a serious injury or a horrible showing during training camp and the preseason, Boswell should be expected to be the Steelers kicker again at the start of the 2021 regular season.
S Antoine Brooks Jr. — Brooks, who was selected by the Steelers in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Maryland, was released just prior to the start of the 2020 regular season and then immediately signed back to the team’s practice squad. The young safety spent the first six weeks of the season on the Steelers practice squad but was ultimately elevated to the Active/Inactive roster multiple times after that, reverting back to the practice squad following games. He did finish the 2020 regular season on the Steelers 53-man roster. Through the final 10 games of the 2020 season, Brooks played in four games, while dressing but not seeing action in three others. He was a game day inactive twice during that span and was also in street clothes for the Steelers lone playoff game. In total, Brooks played 29 defensive snaps as a rookie in 2020 in addition to logging 10 total special teams snaps. He was credited with two total tackles in 2020 with both coming in Week 10.
Outlook: There’s currently a lot of optimism surrounding Brooks this offseason after his very nondescript 2020 rookie season. It certainly seems like Brooks will be given every opportunity to be the Steelers new nickel defender in 2021, a position that cornerback Mike Hilton manned for several previous seasons. Those are big shoes for Brooks to fill in his second season, however, and especially on the heels of him barely seeing playing time on defense in 2020 as a rookie. Brooks is better suited to play down low in the box, so there is that and it could result in him at least being the defensive unit’s extra dime defender in 2021 if he doesn’t win the nickel spot outright. Assuming Brooks does ultimately make the 53-man roster later this summer, he’ll be asked to play a lot more on special teams throughout the 2021 season and might even wind up being a core player for coordinator Danny Smith. Brooks is more of a strong safety type, so he figures to wind up backing up starter Terrell Edmunds in 2020 if he shows enough promise throughout training camp and the preseason. 2021 is a big season when it comes to Brooks.
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